NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Christopher Newport concluded the 2016 season and the Matt Kelchner era Saturday, as the Captains shut out the Knights of Southern Virginia, 41-0. The victory at POMOCO Stadium was followed by an emotional ceremony at midfield honoring the only coach in the 16-year history of the CNU football program.
The Captains Senior Day triumph raised their record to 7-3 overall and 6-3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Kelchner's 16-year run, which included ten NCAA appearances, ended with a final record of 109-60 for a winning percentage of .645.
"I want to thank everyone involved in our program over the years," Kelchner said. "Players, coaches, fans, support people...it takes a lot of people to be successful, and I was very fortunate to have a great group of people here at CNU from the top down. I also want to thank my wife and my whole family for all they've done for me over the years."
Christopher Newport jumped to a 21-0 lead at halftime and never looked back, adding 20 second-half points to secure the win. The shutout was the second of the season for the CNU defense, and the ninth in program history. CNU scored six touchdowns, three in each half, and out-gained the Knights for the day in total yardage, 369-88.
Kelchner, who will remain in the CNU athletic department as an associate athletic director, concluded his coaching career with an 88-25 mark in conference games and was named the Coach of the Year in the USA South seven times. His squads at CNU registered just one losing season in 16 since the inception of the program.
Junior quarterback K.J. Kearney threw for three scores and also ran for a touchdown. Kearney connected with sophomore Joshua Davis, junior Austin Hall and senior Taylor Loudan on scoring throws, and scampered for an eight-yard scoring run. Kearney, who started all ten games at quarterback for the Captains, concluded the season with 18 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions. He also ran for six scores in all.
The touchdown for Loudan, a six-yard strike late in the third quarter, ended the scoring. It was Loudan's 21st career touchdown, seventh-most in school history. Loudan, one of 20 seniors honored before the game in a Senior Day ceremony, became the first receiver in school history to post 1,000 or more receiving yards in two seasons. The Stephens City product, who recorded 1,153 receiving yards last year, caught eight passes for 105 yards Saturday to finish the 2016 season with 82 catches and 1,017 yards. His final tally of 179 career receptions is a school record.
In addition to throwing a shutout, the CNU defense also got into the scoring column for the fourth time this season. Senior lineman Jayvon Temple intercepted a pass early in the third quarter and rumbled 21 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Demetrius Arties led the Captains with nine tackles, while junior linebacker Brennan Gary made seven. Gary led CNU in the tackle column this year with 83, including a school-record 17.5 for a loss of yardage.
Southern Virginia finished the year with a 2-8 record and a 1-8 NJAC mark. The Knights were forced to play freshman quarterback Brendan Smith due to a pre-game injury to usual starter, sophomore Ty Jones. The victory was the second for CNU over Southern Virginia in as many years. The Captains won in Buena Vista last year, 51-7, in the first meeting ever of the two schools. As Kelchner steps away from the CNU program, a national search will begin soon for the second coach of the Captains, who will begin the 17th season of football next September.